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David Jenkins’ Gala Speech

This is the original text of the speech delivered by David Jenkins at the Gala on Saturday night. It’s not precise, David spoke extemporaneously at many points, but you get the idea:

Thank you. This event is the result of an incredible amount of work that cannot go unrecognized in my time up here, so right away on behalf of the Jobsite board and ensemble we are truly thankful for the work and contributions of these folks: Elizabeth Fendrick, Gianna Rendina-Gobioff and the Gobioff Foundation, Michelle Baker and everyone at The Refinery, April Smith, Sarah Stone, Illumination Advertising, Roz Potenza, the entire staff of the Straz Center, Natalie and Belle Fleur Studio, VPN Studios who’ve been taking pictures this evening, The Art Institute of Tampa. Also our restaurant partners in The Refinery, Ella’s Americana Folk Art Cafe, Mise en Place, SONO Café, The Rooster & The Till, and The Birchwood. Our amazing drink sponsors The Independent, JJ Taylor, and Augustan Wines, and of course The Black Honkeys who’ve been playing tonight — and who will come right back after this presentation … I hope I didn’t forget anyone … (?)
I want remind everyone about the silent auction in the lobby that closes at 10:30 sharp, we have over $15,000 worth of items up for grabs and minimum bids only add up to $4,000, meaning there are some mean bargains to be had out there that help us raise funds tonight to the many gracious donors of those items.
To everyone here: Thank you. For supporting us. For showing up. For giving. Maybe this is your first Jobsite event, and looking around I can see that some of you have been here since the beginning. I’m just a blue-collar kid from the northside of Jacksonville, and could have never dreamed that I’d be a part of something like this. That we’d have such a good run, and such a bright future. We’ve not only managed to stick to our guns in producing the kind of work we believe in, but we’ve managed to do it while creating meaningful dialogue in our community about important issues – something you’ll see us do a lot more of as we move on (I’m not getting this PhD for nothing) – and also begin to offer work to our schools so that we can be an active part of creating a culture that sees the arts not as just something for the elite but an integral part of daily life. But I preach to the choir …
Thank you, for coming to our shows, for buying season tickets (which are, incidentally, on sale in the lobby …), for telling other people about us, and again for being here tonight and making donations that we’ll be able to put to immediate use for artist payroll during the 2013-14 season. I think we all want to live in a world where the word “starving” is never associated with “artist” – no matter what it is you craft: music, food, flowers, paintings, or plays. We deserve better as a society, and you are helping make that a reality.
Now to our guest of honor:
Judy Lisi is a believer. She believed that this building could be turned around financially when she came in as President. She believed that the humble dirt-floored concrete room next door could be a viable black box theater space. She believed that Tampa audiences deserved to have access and exposure to not just big Broadway musicals (which I of course understand pay the bills) but to important plays that don’t often tour, and that the area wasn’t consistently producing on their own. She believed in Jobsite enough to invite us to offer performances as part of their Play Series, where we alternately produced with them, and then 10 years ago believed in us enough to stop producing altogether in the Shimberg and allow us to take it over as resident theater company. At that moment we were no longer scrambling from space to space, uncertain where we might be performing 2 or 3 shows down the road. We were able to begin to draw season ticket holders, donors, sponsors — all the things both great and small that would allow us to not only become stable but to grow.
Just this year, Judy made another leap of faith in asking us to move into this space, the Jaeb, in addition to our play season next door where we will co-produce Return to the Forbidden Planet next summer, one of the many reasons we celebrate here tonight.
Beyond her position as the head of the Straz, we have counted Judy and members of the Lisi family as some of the most ardent supporters of our work, a family full of musicians and artists in their own right, a family dear to many of us.

Judy, you are a Shining Star, and it’s with great pleasure and on behalf of our board and ensemble that we present you with our first Shining Star Award.
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